In today’s post I’m talking all things India, where I spent the last month doing my yoga teacher training. So, here’s a little throwback, and I am also introducing you to the basics of Ayurveda. There’s an Ayurvedic breakfast recipe for you, too – all in collaboration with Valensina!
Throwback: My time in India
I have already talked (literally) about my impressions from my time in India here, so today I’d like to take the time to reflect on my trip in written form, and want to share with you how I feel today, three weeks after my return from Goa. My time there was intense, days were long and followed a strict rhythm with a full schedule. The heat didn’t make our yoga practice (3 x 90 minutes daily) easier, and the additional philosophy and anatomy classes were intense, too.
Journey to myself
Yet I would not want to have missed the opportunity of doing my yoga teacher training in India. For almost four weeks I was able to look deep inside myself, and I made use of the time to think – about myself, life, the next year and the past one. It may sound very abstract, but being at a place where spirituality leads, one is inspired to also develop some spirituality and to think deeply.
I found it helpful to be far away from home and my everyday life to think about my routine. I had no idea what my time in India was going to be like – all I knew was that I would practice yoga daily, that my residence was next to the beach, and that I would get three Ayurvedic meals per day.
Leaving my “bad” habits behind
I accepted all that, of course, after all I booked the trip myself. However, I wanted to go “all in”, to accept the full challenge, and so I left all my “bad” habits at home. I say “bad” (in quotation marks) because I generally am not a fan of negative expressions. I like to eat chocolate in the evenings, and I enjoy one or two cups of coffee every day. That, perhaps, is my shortcoming, but it is me – imperfect, as we all are.
No to sugar, caffeine and alcohol
However, in India I wanted to refrain from caffeine, sugar and alcohol. I managed pretty well, I’d say, despite one exception (I had one cup of coffee in three weeks). We ate a bowl of porridge and another bowl of fruits in the mornings, had a vegetable or legume curry with rice for lunch and a curry with naan bread for dinner. In the meantime I had nuts and almonds and dried fruits.
Food was very one-sided, and I missed many things: raw vegetables, salad, eggs, cheese, dark German wholemeal bread, among others. I enjoy every meal I have, I love to eat, and I take a lot of time to prepare my meals. Hence, for me personally it was not easy to eat curry from a plastic plate on 25 days in a row. Interestingly however, I did not miss sweets such as chocolate.
Back at home, back to the habits
Back in Germany, I planned on being (even more) mindful about my intake of sugar: I don’t use refined sugar for my own cooking and baking, but, as I said, I eat chocolate and the odd slice of cake every now and then. Especially now, during Christmas time, I find it difficult to walk past the shelves with gingerbread and christmassy chocolates!
I figured that this is my new year’s resolution for 2018: not having any sweets in the house besides dark chocolate, and enjoying that even more mindfully.
Sattva, Rajas, Tamas: the three „gunas“ of the Ayurvedic way of eating
In collaboration with Valensina, I have developed an Ayurvedic breakfast recipe for you. Ayurveda divides foods into three groups (“Gunas”): Sattva, Rajas and Tamas. Fruits and veggies, honey, milk and butter, for instance, are considered sattvic, that is pure.
Rajas are stimulants such as coffee and tea, as well as fish, eggs, spices and chocolate.
Tamas are fermented foods, meat, alcohol, vinegar and – interestingly – garlic and onions. Those foods are said to make tired, lazy and depressed, and one must aim to keep their intake as limited as possible.
What Dosha are you: Vata, Pitta or Kapha?
If you want to follow the Ayurvedic way of eating, you must find out your type (“Dosha”) first, which is an easy thing thanks to online questionnaires (or ask an Ayurvedic doctor to do it for you). There are three Doshas – Vata, Pitta and Kapha – and for every Dosha different foods are recommended.
I, for instance, am Vata-Pitta Dosha, which is a combination of a fast, (hyper)active person (frankly, Vata stands for movement) and an accurate, ambitious, thoughtful person (frankly Pitta stands for energy). I must aim to eat sweet, salty, bitter and cool foods, and must avoid to eat oily, sour and over-spiced foods. The internet offers plenty of information, if you want to find out more about the Doshas.
Now, let’s finally talk breakfast! I was very happy when Valensina contacted me in India regarding a sponsored blog post, because that means that today I get to talk about India and share with you a new recipe, an Ayurvedic breakfast recipe that is!
Grapefruits and oranges are a commonly used fruit in Ayurveda, especially in combination with cinnamon they have a warming and calming effect on the body and mind. Fresh fruit juices are also allowed in Ayurveda, as long as they are – like the juices from Valensina – free from added sugar and preservatives. Also, in Ayurveda we refrain from very cold substances, because they “shock” our organs as would a bucket with cold water, emptied over our heads, do. So, make sure your juice is not too cold.
You could substitute the cinnamon with the seeds of three cardamom capsules, I also like to use fresh vanilla every now and then.
I hope you enjoyed this little novel I wrote here (I really tried to make it as short as possible), Namaste and see you soon again!
Ayurvedic breakfast bowl with grapefruit, pomegranate and cinnamon
For one serving.
60 g porridge oats
200 ml almond milk (or cow’s, oat, rice or soy milk)
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp pistachios
1 tbsp pomegranate seeds
Honey or maple syrup
Ground the oats in a food processor until they remain a course flour.
Transfer the oats to a small saucepan, add almond milk and cinnamon stick, and bring to a boil over low heat. Simmer the oatmeal for 5 minutes, stirring, and slowly add 100–200 ml water during the process to prevent the porridge from burning as well as to make it creamy.
Peel the grapefruit, remove any white skin, and cut the grapefruit in slices or cubes.
Roughly chop the pistachios.
Transfer the Ayurvedic oatmeal to a bowl, arrange with grapefruit, pomegranate seeds and pistachios. Sprinkle the porridge with cinnamon, if desired, and drizzle with honey or maple syrup to serve. Enjoy!